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New on CD: ''High Fidelity'' and Barbara Cook

The songs from the quickly closed ”High Fidelity” deserve a second listen, and vocal legend Barbara Cook keeps going strong at 80

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High Fidelity: Joan Marcus

New on CD: ”High Fidelity” and Barbara Cook

High Fidelity: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Yes, it was the most maligned show of 2006. But I maintain that High Fidelity — which opened and closed in less than two weeks last December — was also the most underrated. For proof, pick up the CD, which solves pretty much every problem the show had on stage. (That Bruce Springsteen impersonator sounds a heck of a lot better than he looked.)

Tom Kitt’s music, a terrific fusion of pop and Broadway, manages to be both hip and accessible — not to mention insanely catchy. The ”Last Real Record Store on Earth” opening sucks you in with its toe-tapping melody…and then you notice Amanda Green’s slacker-cum-sophisticate lyrics: ”Nothing’s great and nothing’s new / Nothing has its worth/ Meet the real go-getter with the thrift-store sweater in the last real record store on earth.” The momentum continues with ”Desert Island Top 5 Breakups,” lags a bit with the new age-y ”Ian’s Here,” but picks up again with the brilliantly ironic codependent ballad ”Ready to Settle” (”You’re just like me / Alone and sad / And in this light / You don’t look so bad / I’ve had the best, now I need a rest / Just someone who’ll do, and I’m ready to settle for you”). High Fidelity will probably only be remembered as a footnote to the 2006-07 Broadway season, but the original Broadway cast recording may well become one of your desert-island discs. B+

No One Is Alone
Barbara Cook (DRG)

Is it just me, or does Barbara Cook’s voice only improve with age? The Broadway legend is now nearly 80, and her silvery soprano is still in top-notch condition. Yet it’s her ease with Broadway standards that impresses most: She has a heartbreaking way with On the Town‘s wistful ”Some Other Time,” puts her own jazzy spin on Oklahoma‘s ”Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” and makes a trip to ”Never Never Land” feel brand new. And you might think the last thing you need to hear is another version of Sondheim’s ”No One Is Alone” (Into the Woods), but trust me — you need to hear Cook’s. A-